JAMES R. OSGOOD & CO.
Boston, 1880-1885

LITERARY NOTES.
New York Times; September 5, 1881. p. 3

—The illustrated edition of Owen Meredith's "Lucile," which James B. Osgood & Co, will publish during the present week, is the first holiday book to appear during the present season. This house has exceptional facilities for the illustration of books, and the wood-cuts in "Lucile," suggested or planned by Mr. A. V. S. Anthony, who is artist to the house, and whose "Illustrated Longfellow" stamped him last year as a man with special genius for this work, are as unique in their character as they can possibly be. They follow the author's text closely and throw fresh life into it. The characters sit for their several portraits; the European localities alluded to in the poem are studies of the very places indicated, and both the artists and the engravers seem to have vied with one another to furnish expressive and characteristic drawings. The poem furnishes less scope than was to he found in Longfellow's writings, but by blending historical with imaginary scenes considerable variety is reached, and the book is really illustrated. The printing is that of the University Press, and at the Riverside no better work has yet been done.

Excerpt from "Recent Illustrated Books,"
The Atlantic Monthly (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1882) 49; p132

Lucile. By Owen Meredith. Illustrated. Boston: James R. Osgood & Co. 1881

To say that the illustrations to Lucile in the latest edition are good enough for the book is not to condemn either the poetry or the pictures, but to hint at the influence which the work to be illustrated ordinarily has over the mind of the artists who are called upon to furnish the illustrations. The easygoing, business-like verse of Owen Meredith and the well-controlled story reappear in the abundant illustrations which accompany this agreeable-looking volume. The little poetic flourishes are represented by clever vignettes, which give a curl to the printed lines without interrupting them; the airy guidebook passages have architectural and landscape views, generally devoid of any special imaginative quality, -- even Mr. Moran's gorgeousness seems to be tamed into place; the personages have the same well-dressed, decorous, and half private-theatrical air. It cannot be said that the figure subjects are the most successful, and the frontispiece is unhappily chosen, for there are better pictures in the book; but the artists seem generally to have drawn their inspiration from the text, and the stream can scarcely be expected to rise above the source. The popularity of Lucile, however, must be taken as justification for so profuse illustration, and there is as little to offend good taste in the pictures as in the poetry. Further than that we cannot bring ourselves to go.

Notice in the "Editor's Literary Record."
Harper's New Monthly Magazine (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1882) 64; p473

Few poems are more suggestive of pictorial embellishment than Owen Meredith's (Sir E.R. Bulwer-Lytton) delightful narrative and dramatic poem Lucile, and few have been mor worthily and ornately illustrated than this edition just published by Messrs. James R. Osgood and Co., of Boston. The poem abounds in graphic descriptions of grand or picturesque scenery and in highly dramatic incidents and situations, and these, combined with the poet's exquisite conception of womanly beauty, purity, and power in the person of the heroine, afford numberless opportunities for the genius of the painter to vie with, or at least to suitably interpret, the genius of the poet. The illustrations comprise twelve superb full-page engravings and one hundred and fifty smaller ones, from drawings by Mary Hallock Foote, E.H. Garrett, E.P. Hayden, L.S. Ipsen, E.F. Lummis, Thomas Moran, J.E. Palmer, Granville Perkins, James D. Smillie, A.R. Wand, W.P. Snyder, and other artists. The engravings are by A.V.S. Anthony, John Andrew and Son, T. Cole, W.B. Closson, W.J. Dana, W,J. Linton, W.H. Morse, N. Orr, G.C. Lowenthal, F.S. King, R. Varley, J. Karst, W.M. Tenny, and G. Kruell.

Mary Hallock Foote

A long article on Foote by Sue Rainey appeared in The Winterthur Portfolio (41:2/3, Summer-Fall 2007), pages 97-139: "Mary Hallock Foote: A Leading Illustrator of the 1870s and 1880s."Foote was Eastern-born and educated in New York City, but spent much of her life in the Rocky Mountain West after marrying an engineer.  She did a good deal of commission work for eastern periodicals and publishers, however, and James Osgood commissioned Foote's illustrations for a goodly number of books during the 1870s.  Rainey quotes from her A Victorian Gentlewoman in the Far West: The Reminiscences of Mary Hallock Foote, edited by Rodman W. Paul (Huntington Library, 1972), "... I ventured to take on myself another book contract, the most preposterous one yet. Imagine illustrating Lucile for a de luxe edition in Leadville [Colorado] -- I who had never been abroad in my life and didn't even know what sort of chairs they sat on at European watering places!" (Rainey page 135; Reminiscences page 196).  Family and personal health problems, however, made it impossible to complete the assignment, and Foote made just a few drawings, one of which was selected to become the frontispiece. Apparently this episode persuaded her to focus on writing, rather than illustration, and she wrote later, "I never took a time order again, not even for a single illustration. This is how I came to illustrate chiefly my own stories: no more giftbooks for me." (Reminiscences page 203).

A full biography of Foote has been written by Darlis A. Miller, Mary Hallock Foote: Author-Illustrator of the American West (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2002) and a monograph analysing her writing by Christine Hill Smith, Social Class in the Writings of Mary Hallock Foote (Las Vegas: The University of Nevada Press, 2009).  Wallace Stegner also quoted Foote's letters extensively, and controversially, in his novel Angle of Repose (1971).

For other notices of Osgood's Holiday edition, see Sightings.

 

Last revised: 6 September 2011